Saturday, November 30, 2013

Give the Gift of Independence and Responsibility

raising independent responsible children


"Who cleans their room?" was asked by a mother at a public university freshman orientation parent session.

The moderator paused briefly
and responded, "The students clean their own room. If your student does not know how to do that, it would be good to teach them before they come to college."

Really? Who cleans their room? Are you kidding?

Maybe not, since I recently read this response on a forum where a question was asked about what chores you have your children do at what age: "I don't require my daughter to do chores. When she is grown and needs to cook and clean, she can figure it out then."

Perhaps this mother thinks she is being a nice mom by doing everything for her child. In reality, she is handicapping her daughter by not teaching her basic life skills when she is young so she does not struggle with them when she is an adult.

What does your child need to know to live on their own?

I attended a homeschool seminar by Beverly McCord years ago. She and her husband made a list of everything their children needed to know or be able to do before leaving home. What a great idea!

Students need to know more than academic subjects. Just as you have a plan for their academic success, you should have a plan for their life skills success.

Here is an incomplete list of things my children know before they leave home and when I start requiring them to learn/practice the skill.

Cooking - They are required to plan and prepare one lunch per week. The menu must change monthly. In the beginning, sandwiches were not allowed; a cooked recipe had to be made. When I started this, my youngest was too young to do it by herself, so I taught her to plan and helped her prepare until she was old enough to go solo, about age 7-8.

Make bed - children can be taught this skill fairly young, probably by 4. As they get older, they can learn to change the sheets, too.

Laundry - when my children were very young, 2-3, I had them help me separate the laundry. As they grew a little older I had them help fold towels and other laundry items. When my oldest girls started doing their own laundry, around age 11-12, I realized what a great idea that was! I started requiring the children to do their own laundry by age 12, though some started sooner. Color Catchers are the greatest invention for children (and adults) to do their own laundry. Even though my children know how to sort their laundry into several loads, they don't always do that, but it is ok if they throw in a Color Catcher.

Sweep - toddlers like to push a broom around even though they may not be very effective. Don't discourage them from 'helping'. It won't be long before they will be able to sweep correctly with some training. Sweeping can then be added to the chore list by the time they are 6-7.

Vacuum - another task toddlers like to imitate. Give them the hose attachment or a small vacuum and let them have fun while they are helping you. As they get older, they can push the vacuum effectively.

Mop - let the children help and teach them to mop properly. If the mop is too heavy, they will enjoy a wet rag to wipe over the floor.

Dust - It is just as easy to teach cleaning the most effective way as an ineffective way. When we moved into our house many years ago, I followed the Don Aslett Clean Team method. The children were paired into teams and we all cleaned together on Fridays. They learned to dust from the top down, which makes the most sense.

Clean bathroom - children really can do more than we think. My daughter was cleaning the bathroom spotlessly by the time she was 7 years old - even folding the end of the toilet paper into a pretty shape!

Clean kitchen - my children always had an age appropriate kitchen chore that changed weekly. Some of the chores younger children can do: unload dishwasher (I store plates, etc in a low cabinet), set the table, clear the table. Other chores for the kitchen: load the dishwasher, wash dishes, clean and wipe counters, sweep, wipe down cabinets, etc

Mow lawn - all my children have had mowing (and weed-eating) duty. After breaking too many riding mowers, for many years we had a push mower. Not a self-propelled push mower, but a real deal push mower to mow our 1+ acre. The children took turns mowing the lawn, and most summers somebody did some mowing every day. We once again have a riding mower since only one child is responsible for the mowing these days.

Change a tire - this is part of driver training. Everyone should know how to change a tire.

Change oil in car - part of driver training. My husband teaches all the children. Whether they choose to use this skill or pay somebody to do it someday is up to them, but at least they know how.

Check car oil and other fluids - part of driver training. Everyone should know how to check all the fluids in their car.

Financial responsibility - this will often be 'caught' before it is taught. Children should see you paying bills on time, comparison shopping, not spending more than you can afford, etc. When they have money of their own, your teaching should be more intentional and include bank accounts and checkbook balancing, etc.

Write thank you notes - start this very young, even if they can only draw a picture. This is becoming a lost art. This is part of teaching gratitude.

Make phone inquiries - early teens or sooner. I recently made my daughter make a phone inquiry. She was reluctant to do so since she had not had to do it before. We will need some more practice sessions for her to become comfortable.

As indicated, this is an incomplete list.
What would you add to the list?

In your quest to make childhood easy, don't make adulthood hard for your children. Teach them what they need to know. Help them be independent.  Give them that gift.

Don’t be the parent who asks, “Who cleans their room?”

This was shared at Whole Hearted Home 

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